Root and English Bowlers Dominate the First Ashes Test
Australia have lost the first Ashes test in England, for the third consecutive English based series.
Australia have not won a first test in England since 2005 and a decade ago the Australian side included Langer, Hayden, Ponting, Martyn, Clarke, Katich, Gilchrist, Warne, Lee, Gillespie and McGrath.
By 2009 only Ponting, Katich and Clarke survived.
With the Australian captain the last remaining bastion of the halcyon days of Aussie cricket, things are not looking good.
As well as the Australians have played in recent times, they are currently ranked number one in one day internationals, second in tests and third in T20, a squad like they had in nineties and early noughties rarely comes along.
In the first 2015 Ashes test the England bowlers really lifted, buoyed no doubt by their recovery against New Zealand in the recent one day series.
Anderson and Broad were back to their best form and were more than ably backed by Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.
Joe Root dominated the batting, with an aggregate score of 194 and he was the only centurion in the match. Conversely, the Australian batting was no match for the England attack and by far the highest scorer in the second innings was from tail ender Mitchell Johnson.
This was inverse of his bowling which was largely without reward, picking up only 2 wickets for 180 runs off of 41 overs. He has certainly bowled worse and picked up more wickets at other times.
Australia will really miss Ryan Harris in this series, but on a more lively wicket things could go very differently.
This is how the British national broadcaster reported the result.
England romped to a crushing 169-run victory over Australia in the first Ashes Test to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Chasing an unlikely 412 to win, Australia lost four wickets for nine runs in 35 balls either side of lunch and were bowled out for 242 one hour after tea in Cardiff.
Stuart Broad was England’s inspiration, taking the wickets of three of Australia’s top four batsmen.
And, following a brief lower order rally, Joe Root showed his golden touch to take two of the last three wickets, including Mitchell Johnson for a spirited 77.
The win is a huge fillip for England, who lost the last Ashes series 5-0 down under and have only won one of their last five Test series.
Having been reduced to 43-3 on the first morning, they rebounded to produce four days of high-class, aggressive cricket in their first match under Australian coach Trevor Bayliss.
Australia, strong favourites to retain the Ashes before the series, now have only five days to recover and reassess their tactics before the second Test starts at Lord’s on Thursday.
Turning point – Warner’s wicket
After a relatively frustrating morning in which the ball flew repeatedly past the edge, England were contemplating going to lunch with only the wicket of Chris Rogers to show for their efforts.
But Alastair Cook’s decision to toss the ball to Moeen Ali for the final over before the interval proved to be a masterstroke.
David Warner, who had dismissively launched Moeen for six over mid-wicket in his previous spell, played around a ball that slid straight on and was out lbw for 52.
The wicket brought palpable relief to a jittery home crowd and dampened the growing optimism among the Aussie-supporting contingent.
Worse was to come for those in green and gold.
In the first over after lunch, Broad drew Steve Smith into an ugly poke away from his body, and for the second time in the match the world’s number one Test batsman was out for 33.
As England’s relentless accuracy dried up Australia’s scoring, captain Michael Clarke succumbed to temptation. Aiming an airy drive at Broad, he picked out Ben Stokes at backward point.
And on it went. Adam Voges nicked his fellow Ashes debutant Mark Wood to Jos Buttler before Cook took a brilliant catch at the second attempt to complete Brad Haddin’s miserable match.
When Shane Watson fell lbw to Mark Wood, and once again tossed away a review, Australia were 151-7.
The tail wags… but Root to the rescue
To their credit, Australia launched a mini-recovery as Johnson showed his abilities with the bat in hand.
His partnership of 72 with Mitchell Starc briefly threatened to push the game into a fifth day, only for part-time off-spinner Root to provide the crucial impetus for England.
Having just been smashed for 14 runs in three balls by Johnson, he stayed on to have Starc and Johnson caught at slip by Adam Lyth in successive overs to leave Australia nine down.
And when Josh Hazlewood lofted Moeen to long-on, England and their fans launched into celebrations.
Broad showed himself to be England’s man for the big occasion with another influential Ashes performance.
He set the tone with an exceptional opening burst, which started with three consecutive maidens and featured the breakthrough wicket of Rogers, caught at slip to end a run of seven consecutive Test fifties.
Returning after lunch for another probing spell of full, fast seam bowling, Broad gestured to the crowd to raise the noise levels.
And as they roared his run-up from the Cathedral Road End, he responded to remove Smith and Clarke to rip the heart out of Australia’s batting.
Seeing Broad in such inspired form carried echoes of 2009 at The Oval, when he took 5-37 on the second afternoon to set up England’s Ashes series-winning victory. Then, two years ago, he was England’s match-winner in Durham, with a spell of 6-20 in 45 balls as England sealed the series.
Australia, who had won 11 of their previous 16 Tests, suddenly have issues to address as they look to wrestle back the initiative and get back on course for a first Ashes win in the UK since 2001.
The 29th lbw of Watson’s Test career must surely raise questions over the all-rounder’s place in the team, especially given that his understudy Mitchell Marsh scored hundreds in both of Australia’s warm-up games.
Haddin is another player under scrutiny, following his pivotal drop to reprieve England’s first-innings centurion Root on nought on the opening morning. The 37-year-old also conceded 24 byes in the match and looked a shadow of the counter-punching batsmen who tormented England in the 2013-14 whitewash.
There are also concerns over the fitness of Starc, who required treatment for an ankle injury after day one, and was visibly limping during England’s second innings.
Given Ryan Harris’s injury-forced retirement on the eve of the first Test, the Aussies can ill afford another casualty in their bowling ranks.
Reaction from the captains
England captain Alastair Cook: “It was a brilliant performance. This Test couldn’t have gone any better and we’ll enjoy tonight.
“Joe Root was fantastic and the bowlers were superb.
“Everyone was talking about what’s gone on in the past, but this is a different side. We had to look forward. We always took the attacking option in this game.”
Australia captain Michael Clarke: “We were outplayed in all three facets. England batted well on day one, we didn’t take our catches and our batting let us down in both innings.
“We look forward to making amends in the second Test. I’m sure the selectors will look at everyone’s performance and make a decision.
The second test starts at Lords on Thursday. Will we see an Australian revival or is this a sign of things to come?
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By Max Power